As I sit and write my final Up Front for this school year I can’t help but wonder where the year went. My first year as President has been everything that I envisioned, and I am very thankful for all of the support and feedback that I have received from NLTA members. I have been able to visit many of our province’s schools and the honest feedback and commentary was always appreciated, welcomed and most importantly, needed. I have always believed that the most important thing I can do as your President is to ensure I am always speaking for the membership – to do that I have to be aware of our membership’s collective view. For those schools I was unable to visit, I certainly will endeavour to visit at some point in the very near future.
A few short weeks ago I attended the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. As always, I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of teachers’ affiliates from across the country. The perspectives were varied and brought forward many different viewpoints on so many issues that affect teachers across the nation. And while there may not have been universal agreement on all issues, the common purpose that all organizations shared was undoubtedly finding a way to protect our respective memberships. The primary purpose of all teachers’ associations must be to promote the education system and the importance of supporting and protecting the most important stewards of the system – teachers.
Earlier this year, in other writings, I outlined the importance of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada and what it means for our membership. At the CTF Board of Directors meeting that I referenced previously, this was a topic of discussion and I, along with the other members of the Board of Directors, heard from social justice advocate Senator Murray Sinclair. He was the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is the sponsor of Senate Bill S-206, that seeks to remove Section 43. The spirit of this stems from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and its desire to make things right for our First Nations. The Bill, sometimes referred to as the Spanking Bill, should it pass, would remove protections for teachers from frivolous charges. There are times when teachers do need to put in place physical interventions for students. There are numerous legal opinions from across the country that state that the removal of Section 43 could potentially remove a valuable protection for our members. Throughout this year I have been in contact with every Senator from our province and I will continue to lobby, to argue at every afforded opportunity, that removal of needed protections for our members is not acceptable. This Bill, while well intentioned, will result in unintended consequences to teachers and the province’s education system.
As you all are enveloped in the tasks that are required at this time of year, and as you conclude your lesson plans, your evaluations, and preparations for the end of the school year, and most importantly delivering the last of the curriculum, please remember that you need to take time for yourselves as well. The 2017-18 school year is drawing to a close. For some of you this is your last school year. For those who are retiring, I wish you all the best in retirement. I truly hope that your retirement brings all that you want and more. For those that are returning in the fall, take the well-deserved and needed summer break and make it yours. Take the time to spend it with family and friends and take the time to relax and enjoy life – the time to recharge yourselves. A wise person once framed it for me this way, “If you aren’t good to yourself – you can’t be good to others”.
All the best for a relaxing break! Until next time…